Marx Brothers TV appearance queried

Aug 28 2011 - 9:52am

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The Marx Brothers
The Marx Brothers

Q: Two, or possibly three, of the famous Marx Brothers appeared on a single "made for television" production many, many years back. (One of the stars was the famous "mute" brother -- Harpo.) As I recall, not one word was spoken during the entire enactment. It involved the two (or three) planning a "heist," which involved them impersonating police authorities -- right down to their mistakenly miscopied police cruiser (the demise of their planned get-away). I saw the original but have never found a rerun or rebroadcast. Do you know what this is?

A: That was the last TV appearance together by three Marx brothers (Groucho, Harpo and Chico). Called The Incredible Jewel Robbery, it was a 1959 installment of General Electric Theater, the anthology series hosted by Ronald Reagan. In his biography of Groucho Marx, Stefan Kanfer describes the piece this way: "Harpo and Chico acted in pantomime, stealing goods, running from the police, and assuming disguises, with Chico made up as a cop, and Harpo camouflaged as Groucho. At the last moment the real Groucho entered, articulating the show's only spoken line: 'We won't talk until we see our lawyer."' You can see some clips from it on YouTube.

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